Photo courtesy IMSA

IMSA: Helio Castroneves eager for first race ever at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

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It’s rare to find a racetrack that Helio Castroneves has not raced upon in his illustrious career.

But the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner will do just that in this weekend’s Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix IMSA race in his first-ever visit to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – otherwise known as CTMP (and formerly known as Mosport) – in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.

“It’s an amazing track,” Castroneves told the IMSA Wire Service of CTMP. “It’s a very fast track, which they say suits my style, so I love that.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the track. I haven’t been there before. I’ve watched the races on TV, of course. I can’t wait to race there.”

After 20 years as a full-time driver in the CART, Champ Car World Series and IndyCar series, the 43-year-old Brazilian native is in his first full season on the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Series.

In the first six races of the season, Castroneves and Taylor have one win, two podiums and one pole. They come into Sunday’s race in sixth place, 20 points out of first place, while teammates Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya are in third place, 13 points out of first.

This is both Castroneves’ and Team Penske’s first full season effort in the IMSA series. Castroneves, Ricky Taylor, Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron have proven to be formidable contenders in the team’s rookie season.

Taylor and Castroneves are teammates in the No. 7 Acura DPi, while Montoya and Cameron are in the identical No. 6 Acura DPi.

And now comes CTMP, a nearly 2.5-mile, 10-turn track that hosts the two hour, 40-minute race this weekend. Taylor, last season’s WeatherTech Championship Prototype champion, has one win already at CTMP back in 2015 and also has twice sat on the pole there, including last year’s event.

In addition, Cameron, the 2016 WeatherTech series champ, is also the two-time defending Prototype winner at CTMP. Meanwhile, like Castroneves, Montoya will also be making his first career start at the road course west of Toronto.

“Ricky and I, Juan Pablo and Dane are really working all together,” Castroneves said. “So, this program with Acura Team Penske will be as successful as possible.”

Castroneves earned his second career IMSA win in May at Mid-Ohio, adding to the standalone win he earned in 2008 at Petit Le Mans.

With each race – six races have been contested, with four more to go to decide the championship – Castroneves is becoming more comfortable and successful in his “rookie” season.

“The car is great,” he said. “The car is very similar to an open-wheel car. Different tires, and I’m still learning a little bit, not only how to manage that with the tires but also manage the traffic.

“There’s so many cars around. Sometimes you have a big gap and that big gap can go away in, like, three corners.

“It’s fun. I have to say it’s very intense, a little more intense than IndyCar, plus you have so many buttons in the car. I’m still learning and understanding. I’m really, really happy to be around, for sure, now let’s continue to have some fun. Hopefully we can have the result that we want.”

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